When struggling with the loss of a loved one, it is sometimes more helpful to turn to poetry than to philosophy for answers and for consolation. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the greatest and most representative poet of the British Victorian Age, struggled mightily with the problem of pain in an epic poem that he wrote as a way of dealing with his grief over the sudden death of his closest friend, Arthur Hallam. But his poem, In Memoriam, does more than wrestle with the loss of a friend; it wrestles with the societal loss of a traditional Christian worldview. Twenty years before Darwin’s Origin of Species, Tennyson wrestled with the theory of evolution and all that that theory implies about the nature of God, man, and the universe. Although Tennyson, unaware of the modern cosmological, paleontological, and bio-chemical challenges to Darwinism, leans toward theistic evolution, and although he comes dangerously close to endorsing a fully subjectivized faith, his raw, honest grappling with pain and suffering and his yearning for a transcendent God make him a worthy co-wrestler for the modern Christian.
This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Louis Markos about his online-exclusive article, “Tennyson on Theodicy: How a Victorian Poet Can Help Modern Christians Deal with the Problem of Pain.” Please note this article will be fully accessible by the public in the future, to get early access to read it now, please see our FAQ section on Early Access to Online-Exclusive Articles by clicking here.
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